Disney Movies: Pinocchio

All right, so with respect to the initial plan, here’s number deux:

PINOCCHIO

pinocchio 2

A bit of background: Pinocchio was released in 1940, just 2 years after Snow White. It is based off the children’s novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio by Italian writer Carlo Collodi. Not only is Disney one of the many to adopt this story of the wooden boy who dreams of being real (while also lying a lot), Disney also decides to throw in quite a few religious allegories into this one. But does the adaptation work? Why don’t we stick to the template created in the Snow White post and see.

—STORY CONSISTENCY—

This movie was odd. I hadn’t seen it in such a long time that I had forgotten just how disjointed, confusing, and creepy it was. The consistency of the story, in this sense, tried to run much like Snow White’s had, except that where Snow White succeeded in portraying an animated, film version of a fairy tale almost to the T, Pinocchio did not. I enjoyed the very beginning because it was quite easy to follow and the plot was consistently simple. There is a sweet man living in a European village of sorts who makes clocks and works wood. He also likes puppets and wishes to see his latest puppet boy become alive. Fair enough, right? There is also a cricket dressed in clothes who is serving as the narrator. I suppose fair enough again. But this story quickly changes into one about a fox and a cat who apparently go unnoticed among the community as clothes-wearing animals and who also kidnap Pinocchio multiple times. Then, there is a terrible Italian man who places Pinocchio in a cage, an extremely disturbing British devil man who seeks to kidnap boys and turn them into donkeys on what he calls “Pleasure Island”, which we’ll pretend doesn’t have pedophilic undertones, and then suddenly, there is literally a “killer” whale swallowing the characters whole like Jonah from the Bible. All the while, Pinocchio is somehow supposed to be focusing on his only task at hand: Be honest, just, and courageous. The problem with all of this is that there are about 5 different stories described here and none of them really connect to the other. They all just kind of exist to serve as another conflict within the story and I suppose a “reason” for Pinocchio to exhibit his honesty, justness, and courage. And just when we finally get the hang of one, there is another one worming its way in. So not much consistency, I’d say. Though of course, we can’t ignore the fact that, at the very end, Pinocchio still gets his father’s wish and becomes a real boy. So I will give the movie that for its nice completion of the circle (thought of course I will discuss problems with this later on).

—CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT—

With the above in mind, I wouldn’t say there was much character development, either. But unlike in Snow White, it doesn’t work as well in the movie’s favor. If you’re going to have that many plot lines to follow, then you must also have less characters to pay attention to and create more change in these characters. Neither of this really happens. We meet Jiminy Cricket,  Pinocchio himself, the woodworker Mr. Geppetto, Figaro, Cleo, and the blue fairy. But then, before we even really get the chance to start understanding these characters and their tendencies, we are faced with three more characters, and then almost as soon as that happens, we have a whole bunch of new characters. Each character has a strange level of importance placed on them upon arrival into the scene, but then as soon as they say their thing and do their deed, they no longer matter at all. The biggest example of this for me is when Pinocchio tries to convince Jiminy that this random red-head boy who apparently likes to smoke, drink beer, and play pool at his tender boy age is his best friend. But then, as soon as he turns into a donkey, Pinocchio leaves him behind without even a look back. In fact, we don’t even know what happens to this poor overly-adult red-head boy. Besides this, we have Jiminy Cricket, who is the complete opposite of a typical narrator or a good conscience. He is, first off, not very wise at all and quite easily distracted (by women and girls, in particular) and secondly, he is a sarcastic little ass! In the beginning it was funny, but damn, toward the end! I was starting to wonder who helped produce this movie. What — with all the sexual innuendos, dark images, and sarcastic bantering, this movie was clearly meant more for the annoyed adults being dragged along to the movies.

—ANIMATION STYLE AND MUSIC—

Now, here is where things go back to being a little positive. We can already see that within these measly 2-3 years, Disney has up-ed its animation game ten-fold. Pinocchio is much more sophisticated, believable, and well-drawn than Snow White could have ever dreamed of being. With this in mind, we see similarities. The blue fairy is drawn very small, petite, and brightly white, while the men and boys are drawn with much larger features that stand out more and draw in more attention. The music is also quite nice, though I wouldn’t say as nice as Snow White. I didn’t like all of the songs, but if nothing else, they were catchy and the instrumental ones were fairly magnificent, to say the least.

—PLOT COHERENCE—

And here’s where we fall back down again. Because of the lack of consistency, the coherence is also a bit on the shabby side. A lot of questions go unanswered. Like: Why does no one question the fox and cat in clothes? How does Geppetto even fall into the ocean when he was seemingly nowhere near it? And how do the others end up in the whale belly with him, Figaro and Cleo, when they were supposed to be back home, waiting to for when they could eat supper? How the heck does the creepy British man set up his Devil pleasure place and where is it located? If it was that scary and it was necessary for the demonic shadows to close the doors on the children, how is it so easy for Pinocchio and Jiminy to escape? How the heck did they end up on the water? And — the most important issue for me — if the whole point of the story was so Pinocchio could prove himself to be a real boy by being honest, true, and courageous, then why didn’t I feel satisfied at the end of the story when he magically achieves it? Perhaps that is because, in a matter of sorts, he really DOESN’T achieve those things. All he does is do the opposite of those, get a ‘naughty boy Pinocchio’ (while also serving some kind of overly-drastic, scaring consequential experience) and then moves onto the next climactic, nonsensical conflict. It doesn’t really appear that he does any of these things, except perhaps the bravery one, but that just came across as something that wasn’t that scary until the whale showed up, and that was when Pinocchio tried to high-tail it outta there. Also — how can they breathe under water for that long?! Even if Pinocchio doesn’t actually breathe air yet, Jiminy definitely does!

You know — just a few things to consider that don’t make sense. I’ll admit, I did really enjoy the touching moments between Pinocchio and Geppetto in the beginning and very end. But that was about the only thing I really enjoyed. Sorry Pinocchio, but you were a bust.

OVERALL RATING: 4.5/10

What do you think?

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